When tenants can demand rent refund

Lawyer advises residents on their right to ask for their money backThe 86-storey Torch Tower in Dubai Marina, which was struck by a massive fire on Saturday. Out of 676 apartments, 101 are still inaccessible.

Dubai: There are a lot of situations where a tenant can be forced out of their homes and one of them is when a fire damages their apartment.
According to legal experts, UAE tenants who have been displaced by fire and are unable to access their homes have the right to demand a refund of their rent.
A number of renters at the Torch Tower in Dubai Marina were forced to leave their homes after a fire broke out inside the high-rise on February 21.
The tower’s insurer, Oman Insurance Company, has declared 101 out of 676 units inaccessible until they are declared safe to live in. It is not certain when the apartments will be reinstated.

The occupants of the affected apartments were given temporary accommodations at nearby hotels, including Gloria, Media One and Marriott, but they have only until the morning of February 27 to find their own place to stay.
“There are two issues currently being faced by the tenants, [and these are] loss of possessions and loss of a place to live,” noted Jerry Parks, partner at Taylor Wessing, an international law firm that has an office in Dubai.

Wessing said there is no specific provision in the Landlord and Tenant law that explicitly gives tenants the right to demand a rent refund if their apartment is declared uninhabitable, but they can still recover their money from their landlord.
He advised that both the tenants and the landlords agree to a refund and a termination of the lease, or the renter can send a notice to formally end the contract.
Tenants should also go over their lease and see if there is any clause that clearly states that they can get their money back in cases where their apartments are declared uninhabitable.
“Most tenants will have paid rent in advance and will want to recover this from the landlord. The Landlord and Tenant law is silent on this point, but the lease may contain an expressed provision obliging the landlord to refund rent in these circumstances,” Parks told Gulf News.
“Even if the lease doesn’t contain any such provision, my view is that landlords are obliged to refund rent on a pro rata basis, as they are not in a position to provide a habitable property to the tenant, as contemplated by the lease.”
“But for how long does that situation continue? If the reinstatement of the property is going to take some time, as it probably in this case [Torch Tower] it may be better for the parties to agree a refund and a termination of the lease, or for the tenant to serve a notice formally terminating the lease.”

Source: Cleofe Maceda, Senior Web Reporter, gulfnews.com

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